Department of Political Science

Either or? Reconciling findings on mental health and extremism using a dimensional rather than categorical paradigm

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperReviewResearchpeer-review



The background for this paper is the debate over what role mental illness plays in radicalization to violent extremism. While one camp points to cases of abnormal functioning of perpetrators, another argues that normal psychological mechanisms are central. Through a review of these perspectives, it becomes clear that mental illness cannot be ruled out as an epi-phenomenon, but is not a necessary condition either. The paper draws on work in psychiatric nosology on dimensional and categorical conceptions of illness and argues that the perspectives in this literature reflect a categorical approach to normal and abnormal functioning. Under a dimensional perspective, findings converge. The paper concludes by showing how this new dimensional approach to the role of mental illness in radicalization has implications for the design of risk assessment tools and leads to the recommendation for stronger inter-agency cooperation between mental health professionals, social services, and police and intelligence services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Pages (from-to)982-988
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

    Research areas

  • dissent and disputes, forensic psychiatry, forensic science, personality disorders, review, terrorism, PERSONALITY, LONE WOLF, MECHANISMS, SUPPORT, VIOLENCE, DARK TRIAD, RADICALIZATION, DISORDER, AGGRESSION, TERRORISM, Violence/psychology, Forensic Psychiatry, Humans, Mental Health, Mental Disorders/psychology, Terrorism/psychology

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 141790403